Remembering Thursday morning and keeping it holy
On that day, the 12 were gathered in the lower room, well, the gymnasium actually. And, they were organized into three teams of four each. Two teams were competing at any given time.
But this was a special day. It marked the 30th anniversary of the Thursday morning basketball gathering that had originated while its founders were students at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. And three of the patriarchs were in attendance.
“The quality of the game is not what keeps us coming back.”
“Some of the younger guys call it ‘preacher ball,’”explained the Rev. Bruce Arnevik, interim pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church (ELCA), Bloomington. “At one time, it was virtually all pastors.”
“We have probably seen more than 40 clergy attend regularly over the years,” added the Rev. Wayne Peterson, pastor of St. Barnabas Lutheran Church, Plymouth, another one of the guys who have been around since the game’s inception.
“We started at Asgaard Hall at Luther Seminary,” the third patriarch, the Rev. Jeff Beebe, explained. “But when that building was going to be ‘re-utilized,’ the game moved to Si Melby Hall at Augsburg [College] for about 17 years.”
Once again the basketball play group was hit by the remodeling bug when Augsburg decided to update its court. Christ Church Lutheran in south Minneapolis offered its hardwood floor to the pastors about five years ago, and that’s where they have been playing ever since.
These “advanced players” keep a pretty good spirit about the game. When offering to help set up a group shot for this story, Peterson was told that an “action shot” would be preferred. His retort: “Well, you’ll have to Photoshop [the action] in.”
Holy and healthy
The commemorative game was set because Beebe was back in town. He accepted a call to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Salt Lake City, about a year ago. (He had been at St. Paul Lutheran in Wyoming, Minnesota, for about 20 years previously.) So, even though the games started around the time these three pastors graduated from seminary, June 6, 1981, the celebration was held in late July.
“There’s a lot of talk about wellness, especially for clergy, right now,” Arnevik said. “Still, it took a real commitment to carve out this time, not worrying about what others were thinking, even though it is essential for our health.”
“The time has become sacred,” Beebe expanded. “You have to make it a number one priority, or you will let it drift away.” Still, no one would confess to rescheduling a funeral in order to play.
“The quality of the game is not what keeps us coming back,” said Peterson. “In many ways, the lunch together afterwards is most important.” They all agreed that having a place to bare one’s soul is essential, especially when the group gets together on a regular basis.
It’s different than sharing in a congregation, they all agreed. “You can’t throw elbows in the pews,” Arnevik added with a wink.
Tags: Augsburg College, Bruce Arnevik, Christ Church Lutheran, ELCA, Jeff Beebe, Luther Seminary, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church Salt Lake City, Rev. Bruce Arnevik, Rev. Jeff Beebe, Rev. Wayne Peterson, St. Barnabas Lutheran Church, St. Barnabas Lutheran Church Plymouth, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, St. Paul Lutheran Wyoming, Wayne Peterson